The Autumn Sun winning the JJ Atkins Plate (Image: AAP)

JJ Atkins Plate: The Autumn Sun set to blossom in the spring

9 June 2018

CHRIS Waller’s happy knack of unveiling spring superstars in Queensland looks set to continue, with The Autumn Sun and Zousain coming right away from their J.J. Atkins rivals on Saturday.

Waller won the Group 1 race with Pressday (2010) and Press Statement (2015). The latter went on to win the Caulfield Guineas.

He also ran second with Zoustar and Brazen Beau, both of which went on to win the Coolmore Stud Stakes in the spring and become multimillion-dollar stallion prospects.

It’s a likely scenario for Saturday’s quinella, with The Autumn Sun Guineas-bound and Zousain expected to be kept for the sprints.

As a $700,000 Redoute’s Choice yearling, The Autumn Sun was already been keenly sought after by stud farms, but Saturday’s win will send his value skyrocketing.

“It’s a very lucrative sport for owners. There is so much at stake,” Waller said. “I was questioning whether at only his third start, like State of Origin, only certain people and horses can take those steps.

Waller said The Autumn Sun had been earmarked for Queensland a long time before his first start on Anzac Day.

“We thought he could have been a Slipper horse. He just needed maturity,” he said. “Similar to some other horses, we’ve had the confidence to use this (carnival) as a back-up.

“Pushing ruins horses. We just said if things work out and if he’s as good as we think he is, he could win the J.J. Atkins.

“Zousain on the other hand, he did go towards the Slipper. He didn’t get there. He’s still learning his racing habits, but he will be a real good sprinter in the spring.”

This is the first year Waller has had a full-time Queensland stable in operation and the results are shining through. This was his third Group 1 quinella for this year’s carnival.

“It’s a very important part of our system,” he said. “It’s been the makings of a lot of good horses, no more so than Winx.”

Winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who had ridden Zousain at his previous two Queensland starts before switching back to The Autumn Sun on Saturday, said he is keen to continue his association with the colt in the spring.

“He feels like he’s going to get a trip,” McEvoy said.

“He relaxes really well. He has a great attitude. Away from home, he never turned a hair and you would imagine the trip away in the sun is going to help him.”

James McDonald thought he had his first Group 1 winner back from an 18-month suspension all parcelled up when Zousain kicked clear.

“I thought I was going to win it,” he said. “I was three wide and travelling beautifully and got into a good spot. The winner was just too good for him.”

– Nathan Exelby, The Sunday Mail (Qld)